Tax abatement guidelines amended

Published 11:49 am Friday, March 28, 2014

More than 50 percent would need school board’s OK


The topic of tax abatements for businesses has been discussed at length recently and on Thursday during the regular meeting of the Ironton City Council a resolution amending the process was adopted unanimously.

Ordinances 83-60 and 83-61 were adopted on Oct. 27, 1983, and established Community Reinvestment Area No. 3 and Community Reinvestment Area No. 4, respectively, in accordance with the Community Reinvestment Act that was implemented throughout Lawrence County.

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In the past, businesses considering locating or expanding into the areas set by the ordinances could be offered up to a 100 percent property tax exemption for a period of up to eight years. Since the Ironton City School District receives most of its funding from property tax revenue, school officials met multiple times in the past week with county and city leaders to look at possibly amending or modifying the current ordinances.

Ironton City Schools Superintendent Dean Nance said in a prior interview the need to attract businesses and any other forms of economic development goes hand-in-hand with the need to maintain a high-quality education system.

“It’s tough when the school’s money is funded through taxes and there is at the same time a need to attract businesses. You can’t throw out the baby with the bath water,” he said. “We just want them to be cognizant that when people ask about a tax abatement they look at the timeframe and the amount.”

The resolution amending the ordinances specifies that “an owner seeking an exemption in Community Reinvestment Area Nos. 3 and 4 must notify and obtain the approval of the board of education for any exemption in excess of 50 percent for commercial and industrial property.

Also at the meeting, Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship said an offer of $13,000 has been made by the Coal Grove Police Department to purchase two of the city’s three retiring police cruisers.

“I just got this offer at 3:16 this afternoon,” Blankenship said. “I would like to accept the offer and put that money back into the Ironton Police Department equipment replacement fund for future purchases.”

Council member Aaron Bollinger chaired the meeting in the absence of vice mayor Kevin Waldo and asked Blankenship if the cars had to be auctioned under Ohio Revised Code. Blankenship said he was told that the city is allowed to sell them to another municipality and they only have to be auctioned if being sold to the public.

Council member Bob Cleary suggested the city sell the cruisers and the council voted unanimously in favor of the sale to show support; the sale doesn’t require council’s approval.

The vocational school is looking to purchase the other car but has yet to make an offer, Blankenship said.

Resolution 14-13 authorizing the mayor to apply for and administer a $900,000 grant to repair the riverfront boat ramp was also passed with a unanimous vote.

Ordinance 14-11 amending the annual operating budget was adopted after council suspended the rules and it was given three readings.

Ordinance 14-12 amending safety, sanitation and health guidelines in regard to the removal of noxious weeds and litter was adopted.

“This is kind of coming about because of the trash and furniture on North Second Street we kind of had our hands tied on,” Cleary said. “This hopefully will keep us from having the same problem in the future.”

Blankenship said he is still working with Norfolk and Southern Railroad to establish a quiet zone in Ironton.

“I got it down now to having only one guy I’m working with,” he said. “Questions keep popping up, but we’re getting closer to where we need to be.”